BANYANA BANYANA IS GROW­ING UP FAST

Edmonton Sun - - SPORTS - — Derek Van Diest

SALOU, Spain — For­mer South African women’s na­tional team cap­tain Amanda Dlamini was proud to see her coun­try rep­re­sented for the first time in the girls’ draw at the Danone Na­tions Cup tour­na­ment.

Hav­ing grown up play­ing pre­dom­i­nately with boys, Dlamini is op­ti­mistic the next gen­er­a­tion in her coun­try will get a bet­ter op­por­tu­nity to play on all-girls teams, strengthen the women’s game in South Africa along with the na­tional squad,

nick­named the Banyana Banyana.

“I’m very ex­cited they’re here, in a year as well where we saw Banyana Banyana qual­ify for their first Women’s World Cup,” Dlamini said Thurs­day. “Our se­nior women’s na­tional team and that sto­ry­line has been great in my coun­try be­cause girls were able to have a point of ref­er­ence to say, ‘Oh, ac­tu­ally, that’s the World Cup and the one we’re go­ing to that is sim­i­lar at the Danone Na­tions Cup.’

“Hope­fully the sto­ries that will be cre­ated here, they’ll be able to take back home and tell their friends.”

Dlamini rep­re­sented South Africa at the 2012 and 2016 Sum­mer Olympics.

She is play­ing pro­fes­sion­ally for JVW in South Africa and is act­ing as an am­bas­sador for the Danone Na­tions Cup.

“It’s about grass­roots and devel­op­ment, that’s what we’re talk­ing about at the Danone Na­tions Cup,” Dlamini said. “It’s al­ways so much of a chal­lenge ad­dress­ing those cer­tain el­e­ments of the game, but I think the World Cup this year has in­flu­enced women’s soc­cer in South Africa.

“For me, when you spark that in­ter­est, then you have to work with the dif­fer­ent as­so­ci­a­tions to pro­vide a plat­form for these girls to play and de­velop their game and that’s what this does.”

AMANDA DLAMINI

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